Anti-aging research has progressed rapidly over the last several years, with Google and even Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos buying in. But the field’s latest investments will come from Apollo Health Ventures, which has raised $180 million to fund early entrants in the burgeoning race to prolong human life.
Apollo closed its second fund on Wednesday, about three years after closing its first fund at somewhere north of $20 million (though that figure could still go up if investors contribute to follow-on rounds), CFO Steven Leunert told Endpoints News.
“The healthcare sector is experiencing a paradigm shift from treating age-related diseases long after first symptoms have developed to targeting the root causes at earlier stages in the disease pathology,” Apollo co-founder and partner Nils Regge said in a statement.
The Berlin-based venture firm has already used some of the new cash to make six investments in the longevity field, and it’s looking to grow its portfolio to 10 or 15 companies over the next three years, according to partner Marianne Mertens.
The focus? Tackling the “root causes of aging,” Mertens said — which can mean anything from neurodegenerative disease to diabetes.
“It’s not the aging itself, but it’s the disease progression that goes along with it,” Leunert said.
The company’s first fund added four companies to its portfolio, including Aeovian Pharmaceuticals, which bagged $37 million back in 2019 for its mTORC1 inhibitor, and Ochre Bio, which launched earlier this year with a unique approach to identifying new targets for liver disease.
So far, the new round has brought in two Berlin-based longevity companies called Booster Therapeutics and Refoxy Pharmaceuticals; a Swiss-based company working on long-noncoding RNA targets called Haya Therapeutics; a quiet Cambridge, MA-based company called Galilei Biosciences; and two others in stealth mode.
“Our sweet spot is really early-stage and company creation,” she said. “We try to always think in the bigger picture,” considering how a company’s technology might translate to other disease areas, or slow the progression of age-related diseases.
The well-documented (and sometimes ridiculed) anti-aging field has gained momentum in recent years, with Bezos reportedly investing in a stealthy biotech called Altos Labs just a couple months ago. And back in July, AbbVie and Google-backed Calico reached a $1 billion deal to double down on their partnership.
“We just thought the opportunity is right and the time is right for an approach like this,” Mertens said. “We just see that there’s tremendous, tremendous new knowledge around the aging pathways.”